The suppression strategy against the virus is still intensifying more than it is easing. Acting quickly and aggressively with physical distancing brings down the hammer on the transmission speed, the first part of The Hammer and The Dance eloquently described by Tomas Pueyo¹.
The battle against the spread of what we cannot see has spread into bans of many public areas that we can. Parks are closed. Need to keep people off the park benches and prevent dogs from frolicking with one another. A sneeze of droplets onto a hand can end up on the back pocket of pants and onto the fur of pets. The Covid-19 virus can be communicably passed from pocket to pocket, pet to petted pet. Police prioritize enforcement with people not in cars now.
Physical distancing is a chosen necessity to save lives. Regrettably, the longer it is required, the more nerves will be frayed. At an interpersonal level, the warmth of other human beings being near to us is a source of good health.
Two Big Trends to Rethink – Globalization & Urbanization
The hallmark of globalization is not the modern “silk routes” of trade and supply chains of goods. It is the mass interchange of people and places that has truly shaped the modern human condition.
The human revolution towards a global village has been enabled by mobility – at maximum speed, and minimal cost and effort. It was inexorable, until now.
A critical moment in political history occurred last month when the Prime Minister sounded an alarm, beseeching all Canadians: “It is time to return home”. At least temporarily, the era of the free flow of people, psychologically, as well as physically due to travel restrictions, was over. That sent a shiver down my spine.
The global village requires a rethink when extended family and friends are no longer just hours away by plane. The flexibility and safety of multiple far-flung physical locations for working, living, and leisure, and the freedom of choice to move between them, will now be reviewed. Risk considerations and execution challenges that were previously unthinkable are now at the forefront. The shadows they cast over the trend of travel and leisure “experiences” especially sought by Millennials and retirees could be long, impacting not only the tourism industry, but entire countries that depend on it. The effect on business travel could also be transformational.
The megatrend towards urbanization may also no longer be as inevitable as previously assumed. The great migration into cities has been premised upon economies of scale. Urbanization enables efficient use of land, buildings, facilities, events, and cultural centres through communal sharing. The hammer falling puts at least a temporary stop to many of the benefits of urban living. A primary selling feature of modern apartment buildings for example, are the shared facilities and common areas – which are now Closed. Also, how committed will peeps be to packing back into sports & entertainment venues in the future?
How and When Do We Dance?
Once we have Hammered down the speed of the spread of the virus, it will be a Dance until there is a vaccine. The Dance is between trying to live normal lives again contributing to a fully functioning economy, and prioritizing healthcare by ratcheting up social distancing to keep the virus spread manageable. How this evolves will depend on how cases evolve. It will vary by region, and depend in part on numerous levels of leadership, the steps they choose to follow, and public adherence to them.
Lest we forget, this is a global epidemic. There are the have and the have-not countries with diverse starting points and means. Fortunately, Canada is one of the former. We enjoy embedded well-functioning social welfare and healthcare systems, have fiscal strength to maneuver, and political leadership with public support that enables us to adopt the best measures.
Sadly, there are many have-not countries. Emerging markets face the risk of herd infections due to challenges implementing the physical distancing that hammers down the viral transmission speed. Many emerging markets are impoverished with a tinderbox of attributes including crowded living conditions, poor communication infrastructure, scarce healthcare resources, limited stay-at-home work, and lack of financial capacity.
This is worrying. We have already seen here at home how devastating herd infections can be, with the unwitting deadly viral sweep through some of our long-term care facilities.
Compassion to those who are vulnerable, sick & suffering misfortune, thankfulness to those who enable us all to keep carrying on, and good humour to the end, are as essential now as they ever have been.